Valeria Luiselli

Purchase College’s Fall 2023 Durst Distinguished Lecture Series

Purchase College, SUNY has announced that acclaimed author Valeria Luiselli has been selected to serve as the 2023-2024 Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature. A MacArthur Fellow “Genius Award” recipient, Luiselli has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and longlisted for the Booker Prize.

She has been praised by the MacArthur Foundation for “challenging conventional notions of authorship in fiction, essays, and inventive hybrids of the two that pose profound questions about the various ways we piece together stories and document the lives of others.”

Luiselli’s lecture on Thursday, October 12 at 6 pm, titled “Migration Stories,” will serve as the centerpiece of the fall’s Durst Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings renowned writers, critics, and journalists to the Westchester community.

All events are free and open to the public and will take place in the Humanities Theatre on campus unless otherwise noted. Event details can be found at

Other highlighted events in the series include a virtual conversation between award-winning science fiction author Samuel R. Delany and Professor Shaka McGlotten on Monday, October 2 at 6 pm; a conversation about the acclaimed book Rikers Island: An Oral History between its co-authors Graham Rayman and Reuven Blau on Wednesday, October 25 at 6 pm; and a conversation between National Book Award-nominated poet Monica Youn and Professor Monica Ferrell on Monday, November 6 at 6 pm.

Purchase College President, Milagros (Milly) Peña, said, “We’re proud to present the Durst Distinguished Lecture Series and to hear from an array of wonderful novelists, non-fiction writers, and poets representing a wide range of genres, topics, and backgrounds. I look forward to welcoming them to campus for a series of engaging conversations with our faculty members, students, and members of the public. We are sincerely grateful to the Durst family for their continued support which helps enable us to be an important literary and cultural hub for our community.”

Anthony Domestico, an associate professor of English and Global Literatures at Purchase and chair of the department, added, “ This year’s Durst lecturers have a variety of interests—migration in the Americas, race and the imagination, the criminal justice system—and they work in a variety of genres and styles. We can’t wait to have our community enriched by their presence.”

Samuel R. Delany in Virtual Conversation with Professor Shaka McGlotten
Monday, October 2, 6:00 PM

A novelist and critic who taught literature and creative writing at the University of Massachusetts and Temple University, Samuel R. Delany is the winner of four Nebula Awards and two Hugo Awards. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2002, by which time he’d also been chosen by the Lambda Literary Report as one of the 50 people who had done the most to change our view of gayness in the last half‐century. In 2013, he was named the 31st Damon Knight Memorial Foundation Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Delany’s science fiction novels include the Nebula Award-winning Babel‐17 and The Einstein Intersection, as well as Nova and Dhalgren. He is also the author of the widely taught Times Square Red / Times Square Blue and a book‐length autobiographical essay, The Motion of Light in Water, which won a Hugo Award in 1989. He retired from teaching at the end of 2015 and lives in Philadelphia with his partner, Dennis Rickett.

Valeria Luiselli: A Lecture by the Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature
Thursday, October 12, 6:00 PM

Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa, and India. She is the author of three novels: Faces in the Crowd, recipient of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; The Story of My Teeth, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Lost Children Archive, winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for the Booker Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction. She also has published two books of nonfiction, including Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, winner of the American Book Award and a finalist for the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. She has been a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and the recipient of a Bearing Witness Fellowship from the Art for Justice Fund as well as a MacArthur Fellowship. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s, among other publications, and has been translated into more than twenty languages. She teaches at Bard College and is a visiting professor at Harvard University.

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About the Durst Distinguished Lectures

As a small public college, Purchase is proud to introduce students to the level of expertise provided by the Durst Distinguished Lectures. Current and past Durst Lecturers have won an impressive array of the highest level of literary honors, including National Book Awards, MacArthur Foundation Grants, Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships, and Man Booker Prizes for Fiction.

The Durst Distinguished Lecture Series and the Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature are funded by the Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature Endowment. The mission of the Durst programs is to infuse the experience and intellect of leading writers into the Purchase community while providing diverse opportunities for these writers to interact with students and influence campus life.

 About Purchase College, SUNY

Purchase College, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) network of 64 universities and colleges, was founded in 1967 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. His aspiration for Purchase was to create a dynamic campus that combined conservatory training in the visual and performing arts with programs in the liberal arts and sciences, in order to inspire an appreciation for both intellectual and artistic talents in all students. Today, Purchase College, SUNY, is a community of students, faculty, and friends where open-minded engagement with the creative process leads to a lifetime of intellectual growth and professional opportunity. For more information about the College, visit